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Old April 7th, 2008, 09:39 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Castiglione View Post

And do not use auto for the reason Jim gives. Even in the most difficult audio environments, with practice you can get levels right.

Rob
With respect, Robert, I think a lot depends on the circumstances. If you have time, space, and support to be able to check your audio levels consistently through the shoot, I'd absolutely agree with you. When I shoot as DoP with a sound tech and a camera assistant, of course I'd leave levels on manual, and play them.

But if I'm working alone in a difficult or complicated environment, I'd rather get some sound than no sound. And although one should always be aware of the audio level indicators, sometimes there are just too many other things to think about. Once, years ago, I had Audio 1 and 2 on my 400AP Betacam set to manual. Somehow, both wheels were knocked down to zero. I didn't know there was a problem till I was back in the edit. And you can't get news to do a second take for level.

So I will continue to run the camera mic through channel 1 on auto, despite the and, if I have the opportunity to, run a mic on manual through channel 2.
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Old April 7th, 2008, 09:44 AM   #17
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Ch1 auto Ch2 manual

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sareesh Sudhakaran View Post
Thanks Robert, I did exactly this when I shot my short film in January. But I used the shotgun only. Question is: how do you set one channel to auto and the other to manual?
Sareesh, if you look on the panel behind the flip out LCD you will see the "audio select" switches for each channel. Put "Ch1" to Auto, "Ch2" to Manual. You'll need to run Ch 1 - Ch 1 and Ch 2 - Ch 2 on the audio select switches by the XLR input.. And I suggest you go into the menu and set the Audio Level indicators to "on", so that you can see what both channels are doing as you record.
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Old April 8th, 2008, 09:59 AM   #18
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A lot of good advice here. Thanks Jim for the equipment upgrade list, since I'm in the market for better mics myself.

As everyone seems to realize, there are different strategies for different scenarios and budgets. There's no doubt that if my camera is on the battlefield, that it's going to be in auto. Now whether I stay with the camera is another story...

Recording a feature is not a good situation to be doing run and gun audio (the "Dogme 95" approach was criticized even back then...).

Here's a hybrid approach to what I read above that I use on certain occasions that I think will be useful in Saresh's circumstance assuming no extra budget can be allocated. When there is just one good audio source, put it on both channels. If there are real dynamics in audio, and you are heeavily involved in several other tasks, set one level conservatively and the other in auto (as Robert A. suggests). However, if there is reasonable control of the situation, like most dialogue (hopefully you aren't directing as well...), then I find a good approach is to set the level accurately as possible on channel 1, then lower the level of the same signal on channel 2 (about 6db less, depending on the scene). This way, you have a good clean primary source, but if levels do go higher than expected (actors get excited or action audio), there is a clean section to edit in during post. Auto could have level sweeps or other compression artifacts from a sudden loud section that this extra conservative. Same signal, at different manual level settings.

Setting the level manual level "accurately". Like setting exposure, this is both simple in concept, and sometimes challenging in execution. There is one appropriate fixed setting for a scene, assuming of course that a professional isn't riding the inputs with good meters and hi-end equipment. You can arrive at this several ways, but usually the focus is on avoiding the worst scenario - in this case, that is distortion from too high a level. If you can reproduce the audio and mic position properly for the loudest part of that scene (assuming we set levels for every scene!), then the loudest sound in a dynamic scene should be approximately halfway between the dot for reference level (-20db) and the last dot (0db = distortion). If the scene has dynamic loud sections, you can push this a bit higher (never all the way to the end!), if it has quiet dialogue throughout, it should hover around the reference dot.

A quick rant about reference level. It's really only meaningful to set your camera controls to reference tone when a monitored and properly set mixer is being used. If mics are connected directly to the camera, you have to find the range by monitoring the scene audio levels. The loudness of the scene, microphone used, proximity to audio source are all important factors.

Sorry Joseph, but I wouldn't think a level adjustment wheel position is helpful here, beyond being a starting point for adjustment.

A lot of low-budget films make the mistake of compromising on audio, but it's very important for the end audience. We can visually adjust to the picture being obscured at times, but if dialogue can't be comprehended - it's a big problem.

I've had hours in the edit room trying to make the best of problem audio, and that experience is highly recommended for getting priorities right in future productions (hehe!). Room ambience or reverb is very easy to add to flat audio, and virtually impossible to remove after the fact. One thing you can do on set is hanging sound blankets just out of camera range or over hard flat surfaces like windows- it's cheap and helps a lot in many situations - both for reflection (reverb) and outside noise interference (also easy to add traffic and noise afterwards!).

For low budget filmmaking, having and deploying a wired or wireless lavaliere or 2 is very useful. On a proper budgeted film set, you'd use them much less, but the compromises of a mediocre shotgun mic with a single inexperienced boom operator are too much in some scenarios. The lavalier will have far less room ambience and better isolation from surroundings in most settings, and often this is more important than the more natural sound characteristics of a shotgun. Sometimes you can "plant" a hidden lav in a scene. Hiding one on a person takes some practice, but when the shot goes wide, and the boom is distant.... Practicality before subtlety when on a budget. All clean useable audio is better in post than some "great" audio mixed with "terrible" audio.

My first "pro" gig in this biz was as boom operator, recruited from the PA's on a "B" 16mm movie. It was much more challenging than I expected, and I was very lucky to have a great audio guy coaching me from the mixer and nagra with an audio return to my headphones. Getting as close to the audio source as the camera allows (including your shadow...) is only part of it. The angle that the mic has to a mouth changes the character of the sound. Learning the dialogue cues with the actors and getting subtle transitions between characters can be a challenge - especially if audio isn't given proper priority...

Good luck Suresh!
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Old April 9th, 2008, 07:13 AM   #19
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Thanks

Thanks a lot for your help guys.
Unfortunately, I've already invested in my mic and can't change for a while. I understand the 416 is professional and the ME66 is usually used for documentaries and stuff.
Any advice on how to make the best use of the me66 for dialog?
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Old April 9th, 2008, 07:20 AM   #20
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Thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Adams View Post
Sareesh, if you look on the panel behind the flip out LCD you will see the "audio select" switches for each channel. Put "Ch1" to Auto, "Ch2" to Manual. You'll need to run Ch 1 - Ch 1 and Ch 2 - Ch 2 on the audio select switches by the XLR input.. And I suggest you go into the menu and set the Audio Level indicators to "on", so that you can see what both channels are doing as you record.
I'll be doing this. Thanks! Any advice on the MIC REF selection in the menu (50 or 60dB)? I have no clue what that's for. Thanks again...I really appreciate it.
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Old April 9th, 2008, 07:34 AM   #21
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Wow!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sean Adair View Post
A lot of good advice here. Thanks Jim for the equipment upgrade list, since I'm in the market for better mics myself.

As everyone seems to realize, there are different strategies for different scenarios and budgets. There's no doubt that if my camera is on the battlefield, that it's going to be in auto. Now whether I stay with the camera is another story...

Recording a feature is not a good situation to be doing run and gun audio (the "Dogme 95" approach was criticized even back then...).

Here's a hybrid approach to what I read above that I use on certain occasions that I think will be useful in Saresh's circumstance assuming no extra budget can be allocated. When there is just one good audio source, put it on both channels. If there are real dynamics in audio, and you are heeavily involved in several other tasks, set one level conservatively and the other in auto (as Robert A. suggests). However, if there is reasonable control of the situation, like most dialogue (hopefully you aren't directing as well...), then I find a good approach is to set the level accurately as possible on channel 1, then lower the level of the same signal on channel 2 (about 6db less, depending on the scene). This way, you have a good clean primary source, but if levels do go higher than expected (actors get excited or action audio), there is a clean section to edit in during post. Auto could have level sweeps or other compression artifacts from a sudden loud section that this extra conservative. Same signal, at different manual level settings.

Setting the level manual level "accurately". Like setting exposure, this is both simple in concept, and sometimes challenging in execution. There is one appropriate fixed setting for a scene, assuming of course that a professional isn't riding the inputs with good meters and hi-end equipment. You can arrive at this several ways, but usually the focus is on avoiding the worst scenario - in this case, that is distortion from too high a level. If you can reproduce the audio and mic position properly for the loudest part of that scene (assuming we set levels for every scene!), then the loudest sound in a dynamic scene should be approximately halfway between the dot for reference level (-20db) and the last dot (0db = distortion). If the scene has dynamic loud sections, you can push this a bit higher (never all the way to the end!), if it has quiet dialogue throughout, it should hover around the reference dot.

A quick rant about reference level. It's really only meaningful to set your camera controls to reference tone when a monitored and properly set mixer is being used. If mics are connected directly to the camera, you have to find the range by monitoring the scene audio levels. The loudness of the scene, microphone used, proximity to audio source are all important factors.

Sorry Joseph, but I wouldn't think a level adjustment wheel position is helpful here, beyond being a starting point for adjustment.

A lot of low-budget films make the mistake of compromising on audio, but it's very important for the end audience. We can visually adjust to the picture being obscured at times, but if dialogue can't be comprehended - it's a big problem.

I've had hours in the edit room trying to make the best of problem audio, and that experience is highly recommended for getting priorities right in future productions (hehe!). Room ambience or reverb is very easy to add to flat audio, and virtually impossible to remove after the fact. One thing you can do on set is hanging sound blankets just out of camera range or over hard flat surfaces like windows- it's cheap and helps a lot in many situations - both for reflection (reverb) and outside noise interference (also easy to add traffic and noise afterwards!).

For low budget filmmaking, having and deploying a wired or wireless lavaliere or 2 is very useful. On a proper budgeted film set, you'd use them much less, but the compromises of a mediocre shotgun mic with a single inexperienced boom operator are too much in some scenarios. The lavalier will have far less room ambience and better isolation from surroundings in most settings, and often this is more important than the more natural sound characteristics of a shotgun. Sometimes you can "plant" a hidden lav in a scene. Hiding one on a person takes some practice, but when the shot goes wide, and the boom is distant.... Practicality before subtlety when on a budget. All clean useable audio is better in post than some "great" audio mixed with "terrible" audio.

My first "pro" gig in this biz was as boom operator, recruited from the PA's on a "B" 16mm movie. It was much more challenging than I expected, and I was very lucky to have a great audio guy coaching me from the mixer and nagra with an audio return to my headphones. Getting as close to the audio source as the camera allows (including your shadow...) is only part of it. The angle that the mic has to a mouth changes the character of the sound. Learning the dialogue cues with the actors and getting subtle transitions between characters can be a challenge - especially if audio isn't given proper priority...

Good luck Suresh!
Thanks a lot Sean! It really means a lot when someone takes the time to help, so I appreciate it.

What you suggest in the hybrid scenario is exactly what I'm planning to do. I'll just have to practice hard with each location and hope for the best. I've learned the hard way about the impossibility of removing room reverb. What I did was ADR (because the location dialog had too much traffic noise) in a small enclosed room. Talk about jumping out of the frying pan into the fire!

And Amen to your say that it's better to get one type of usable audio than good and bad mixed together. That's another well I jumped into recently, and I'm still hurting from the fall.

I'll take your advice about sound blankets...but I can't afford any professional stuff. Do you have any suggestions of materials that can be used on walls, floors, etc to take out reverb? Also, if I absolutely have to do ADR, for whatever reason, how should I go about it? Can I somehow record everything indoors (both ext and int dialog) avoiding the echo/reverb and then mix it convincingly? I'm asking this because lav mics are out of my budget for now.

Thank you once again for your help!
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Old April 9th, 2008, 07:46 AM   #22
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"Unfortunately, I've already invested in my mic and can't change for a while. I understand the 416 is professional and the ME66 is usually used for documentaries and stuff.
Any advice on how to make the best use of the me66 for dialog?"

The Rode NTG-1 is inexpensive (300AUD) and is a noticeably better microphone than the ME66. Not harsh in the least. Very quiet.

The one thing the ME66 is good at is really digging the sound out of the surroundings.

Rob
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Old April 9th, 2008, 08:15 AM   #23
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The Rode NTG-1 is inexpensive (300AUD) and is a noticeably better microphone than the ME66. Not harsh in the least. Very quiet.
Rob
Agree totally. I often shoot live bands at weddings close up and can vouch that the NTG-1 also seems to handle high SPL levels very well (short of placing an SM57 in the mic holder) and because it is a hyper cardiod pattern it rejects slapback echo from surrounding walls giving clean undistorted sound.

JT
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Old April 9th, 2008, 10:01 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Sareesh Sudhakaran View Post
I'll take your advice about sound blankets...but I can't afford any professional stuff. Do you have any suggestions of materials that can be used on walls, floors, etc to take out reverb? Also, if I absolutely have to do ADR, for whatever reason, how should I go about it? Can I somehow record everything indoors (both ext and int dialog) avoiding the echo/reverb and then mix it convincingly? I'm asking this because lav mics are out of my budget for now.

Thank you once again for your help!
Use mover's blankets.
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Old April 9th, 2008, 10:32 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sareesh Sudhakaran View Post
...Any advice on how to make the best use of the me66 for dialog?
For an Indie film production...you should always do a take of the scene that allows you to get the mic really close...about 12 inches from the subject. You will get better low-frequency response (proximity effect) and more to work w/ in post production. In post production, you need to roll-off some of that high frequency harshness that comes w/ that mic.

I'm not sure what your rental situation is...but, sometimes renting quality sound gear is the best option. Once you use a better mic, you will find that it able to save you time in post production and give you a dramatically better sound.

I used the ME66 for years and graduated to a Schoeps CMIT5u...and the difference is quality is dramatic.

You really need to be set up to go through a mixer (better preamps/ limiters) and have the ability to monitor the recorded signal that's going to tape.

HDV audio is already a slight set back in that it uses MPEG1 Audio Layer II.
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Old April 11th, 2008, 08:43 PM   #26
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Adr

Brian's got that one right. Moving blankets are the same thing. On film sets they often hang them on grip stands, but you'll have to improvise. They can make a huge difference over windows.

I realize you have no budget, but I'd find a way to beg, borrow or steal, and get a lavaliere mic in there. use tape and elastic straps instead of the clip, if it's wired (spend $100). run the XLR down a leg, and some walking is still possible. But a wireless sennheiser ($500 ) will save you over and over.
You do have to watch out for clothing rubbing and hits, and the sound isn't as natural, But you'll save hours, both on set and in post.

For ADR, soundtrack in FCP studio 2 is pretty well setup for this. In FCP 1 you can go into the system just using the voiceover tool. You'll need at least an audio to USB box. Recording to tape and capturing it is a real drag, but there is that budget issue. IF you are mixing with on-set audio, use the same mic, record indoors, but make it as dead in ambience as possible. Blankets - even draping one blanket entirely over the talent. Watch for computer noise, especially if you have external drives. Looking at the image works for some people, others do better just repeating the phrasing after playback. It's an acquired skill.
Take the flat audio, and easily add appropriate reverb ambience with soundtrack presets. Mix in just the right amount of room tone audio form your locations. Definitely record the room tone everywhere if you suspect post audio treatment. 30 secs without dialogue collecting the background audio of that set. You can also use background audio from SFX packages (Soundtrack has some in it's library).

But I would dig deeper in my pockets to avoid ADR as much as possible.
But I understand your situation - it's not audio quality, as much as avoiding really problematic audio, like background noise.
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Old July 2nd, 2008, 03:46 AM   #27
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Shoot Complete!

Thank you everyone for your help and support.
I have finally finished shooting and am into post production - now I'll know how well the sound recording went!
Thanks again!
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Old July 2nd, 2008, 06:17 AM   #28
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Only last week I shot a live band on stage that were quite loud and to my surprise I got no hard clipping with the ALC on
JT

James, I wonder if you could tell more about shooting live bands with mics. Up to now I've just connected to the console . But I am prepping for a feature music docu and have taken my 251 to several rock and electro concerts for casting the musicians and testing some image stuff.

Audio played no role but I was still vy irked with the lousy sound from the mics.

What settings & tricks do you recommend for indoors rock concerts ?

I have excerpted some concerts alone, some with my DP, some with my son holding the boom and the preamp ( the Sonosax which clips neatly on the boom ). The mics I have are Sennheiser MKH 60 shotgun and MKH 20 omni. I've usually just used the MKH 60 in a suspension on the cam, or with a boomperson the 60 on the boom and the 20 on the cam. I can't take much equipment or crew to these prepping venues.
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Old July 2nd, 2008, 08:37 AM   #29
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IMHO: Boom mics are NOT the way to sample sound at a live music venue, at least not for front-of-house. I use my medium diaphragm condenser on a stand for room sound and try to get a board feed if I can.
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